Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Consideration of Issue One

I seem to remember a failed attempt to startle some species of chapbook or journal into existence three years ago⎯Sweeney lived in squalor in a filthy tenement around East Williamsburg, and I imagine everyone involved became too sidetracked by drunken literary arguments to organize in any way (fortunately, since we were doubtlessly incapable of completing such a project then). I can’t precisely date the genesis of Correspondence, but we began meeting with an associate of Ugly Duckling Presse maybe nigh a year ago (she provided us with vital guidance and information we would have surely otherwise overlooked). I think we collected most of the material rather quickly, despite which the process was slow and punctuated by periods of waiting or preoccupation. Since we have all been writing steadily in the months since we submitted contributions to the journal, and since I was not personally very active in editorially handling the material in this issue, I risk a Proustian flashback reading everything after becoming separated from it. Holding the journal and perusing it altogether is also a novel experience. I suppose I should here embed the realization that the collection is editorially slightly rough (like if Joyce eloquently started a row with you in a bar and you drunkenly followed him outside to fight⎯only to find Hemingway waiting in the shadows to box your ears) but in occasional incidents, annoying but sort of endearing. The work collected in this first issue, I think, is as worthy as we’ve been proclaiming. I am amazed by the consistent intensity and earnestness of the contributions: the boring ironical tendencies and affectation that seem to define a lot of younger writers haven’t proper places in our various approaches to the word. If a reader is looking to be exposed to unfamiliar poets producing complex and exciting work, I shamelessly implore her to reference this issue. I believe my favorite line is from a piece by Matthew Daniel, “The book goes in the fire like an internet of seaweed round his cock,” and Sweeney provides poems that are intricately crafted and astoundingly effectual. Richard Loranger, our patron saint, comes at you somehow in all dimensions, filling you with inexplicable light, as he asks, “What poetry isn’t there?” Meanwhile Robert Snyderman’s “Soft Hell” is a violent tempest of language that wrestles vigorously with narrative and coheres into startling realizations, “I carried her body like a hell into disease.” The poetry is balanced by fiction, an aerial ballet from the archives of Joshua Furst, sinisterly illustrated contributions from Tallon, and two articulate critical essays. I think the inclusion of the essays is particularly important as it provides for a range of work representative of the corresponding community of writers behind this project (and both are engaging inclusions⎯Greg Afinogenov posits, “Apocalypse today has many of the same functions, even the same rhetoric, as revolution once did.”). The cover design by Matt Fox is stark and shiny, I should mention. As we learn to put things together in unfamiliar ways our process is perceptible on the pages we offer to a possible audience; this first issue is also an assemblage of material from a community of writers deeply engaged in their pursuits and in creative discourse.

⎯Lonely Christopher (Wed Editor)

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